The NEXUS Experience™
We tend to want to look at numbers, such as productivity and profitability, for clues about the health of our organizational culture, but the true measure is all about individual engagement—that is, how your team members feel and think about their roles in your practice—and the best way to find out is simply to ask them.
How it works
The NEXUS Experience™ is a brief survey with easy-to-use and actionable tools that allows you to begin analyzing culture at the most local level—with direct feedback from employees in real time—and apply the results to your practice as a whole.
Most importantly, it is a conversation-starter designed to involve every team member in the realization of your practice’s ultimate goal: A healthy, engaged culture that delivers an outstanding experience for your clients and their owners.
After completing the survey, each team member receives a confidential, personalized insight report with strengths-based strategies to help them increase their personal satisfaction, engagement, and growth.
Managers also receive an anonymous, comprehensive report of the team’s results with comparisons to the AAHA veterinary practice database.
By reviewing these results together, you can:
- Provide a springboard for positive discussion and new ideas
- Make gradual shifts to improve in how your team works together
- Identify collective strengths and growth areas
- Stay in touch with your team’s unique needs
- Set shared goals and outline actionable steps to achieve them
Does my practice even have a culture?
Yes, it does! While it may not always be top of mind, you, your team, clients, and patients experience your hospital’s culture every time they walk in the door. In AAHA’s Guide to Veterinary Practice Team Wellbeing, “workplace culture” is defined as “the results of diligent adherence to established and expected workplace behaviors determined to be essential for achieving the organization’s goals, as well as the avoidance of those behaviors that are deemed unacceptable.”
Who is this program for?
The AAHA Culture Connection is for the leadership team and anyone else who cares about their workplace, role, and partnership with others. While cultural change is a top-down process, everyone on the team must be involved. Remember, you can’t build a culture for your team. You must build it with them. Because of this, the program is intended to be used by every member of the practice team.
Why should I be concerned about my practice culture?
Healthy people = healthy practice. According to Jennifer Blackmon, corporate director of culture transformation for The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center, happy employees are 12% more productive, stay in their roles longer, and use fewer sick days.
Professional wellness is widely recognized as a critical issue within the veterinary profession, as mental health issues such as depression, financial stress, compassion fatigue, and suicide have become increasingly concerning problems. Workplace culture and self-care have consistently been identified as key areas that can lead to improved overall wellbeing in our personal and professional lives.
My team members seem fine. Why do we need to talk about this?
Disengaged team members wreak havoc on culture—but signs of disengagement can be difficult to detect if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Just like septicemia, unless you’re monitoring subtle parameters, you can be caught in a crisis when your team can no longer compensate. A doctor who is quieter than usual, a technician who begins making critical mistakes, a receptionist who rolls her eyes at the client who just turned his back . . . how do you know if these are individual, private problems or issues caused by the environment your team spends the most time in—your hospital?
How will this program benefit me?
For practice owners and managers
The AAHA Culture Connection helps you invest in your greatest and most valuable resource—your team! By keeping them happy and healthy, you will:
- Reduce costly turnover due to increased employee satisfaction. According to The Coffman Research Institute, turnover for engaged employees is one-third of the overall average
- Improve patient care and client satisfaction as team members build strong, lasting connections to your practice. Engaged teams are more productive, which leads to improved service, and in turn, increased client satisfaction and retention
- Increase productivity by tapping into each team member’s unique strengths. According to The Coffman Research Institute, engaged teams achieve 116% of their goals, while disengaged teams achieve less than 60% of their goals
- Elevate your reputation—and attract and retain top talent—by caring for your team first
For technicians and support staff
The AAHA Culture Connection gives every team member an opportunity to create change. By joining the discussion, you can:
- Close the communication gap and build mutual understanding between leadership and the rest of your team
- Elevate patient care and client satisfaction through improved team communication and processes
- Leverage your unique strengths to do more of what you love
- Establish yourself as a leader and help shape the future of your hospital
What is the AAHA Culture Initiative?
The AAHA’s Culture Initiative is a multifaceted program that aims to prevent or mitigate mental health issues in veterinary practice teams and provide guidance for those teams to build stronger, healthier workplaces.
Why did AAHA partner with The Coffman Organization?
Call it serendipity. Back in 2015, AAHA Chief Executive Officer, Mike Cavanaugh, DVM, DABVP (Emeritus), was on a flight back to Denver after a business meeting. He was preparing a presentation on culture for the Veterinary Management Institute program, feverishly reading and flagging sections of a book called Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch.
He was so engrossed in the book, he barely felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around to find a man seated in the row behind him on the other side of the aisle smiling at him. “You’ve just made my day!” the man said. “The only bigger compliment you can give an author than flagging things and marking the book up is to tell them you recommended the book to your kids.”
That man turned out to be Curt Coffman, founding partner and chief science officer of The Coffman Organization (TCO), and one of the authors of Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch.
Fast forward to 2018. AAHA is developing the Healthy Workplace Culture Initiative and evaluating various measurement tools for employee engagement and culture. On a whim, Cavanaugh decided to share this story—including photos of the book’s flagged and marked-up pages—via the “contact us” link on the TCO website. In response, Coffman visited AAHA to discuss a measurement tool called The NEXUS Experience™.
After this meeting, the AAHA leadership team decided to “audition” The NEXUS Experience™ within their own organization before rolling it out to the rest of the profession. What they found: A fast, easy-to-use tool that revealed many great aspects of a thriving culture at AAHA HQ—and a few surprises that called for intentional change.
After completing the survey, each employee received an individualized report, and each manager with at least four direct reports received a comprehensive team report. Members of the leadership team also received a report of the entire organization’s results. Using these results and the resources in the Practice Management Community, each team met and developed a plan to shore up areas of improvement.
Based on the positive results within its own culture, AAHA selected TCO to help veterinary practices across North America follow suit in optimizing their workplace cultures.
What is The NEXUS Experience™?
Part one of the AAHA Culture Initiative program, The NEXUS Experience™ is a brief survey that uses scientifically targeted questions to measure employee engagement and identify key pain points within your hospital’s current culture. The results are shared in confidential, individualized reports for each member of your team as well as in an anonymous group report, which will be used as a springboard for discussion.Learn More
What is the Practice Management Community?
Part two of The NEXUS Experience™ program, the Practice Management Community is an exclusive online community that offers ongoing support through educational resources and interactive tools like the Agenda Builder™, which can help you plan staff meetings customized to the needs of your unique culture—meetings that team members will actually want to attend.Learn more
How much does the program cost?
Number of employees
AAHA's Culture Initiative is supported through a generous educational grant from Merck Animal Health.